There are around 315,000,000 people in the United States, and we do our damnedest to make sure they all have a voice. (Unless we suspect they’re going to vote against our side, anyway.) But it’s not just voting — it’s all the little ways people voice opinions: what we decide to watch, what we buy, what we say in public, the bumper stickers we put on our cars, what we wear, what we read and what we post… All of it. We’re proud of our rights for free speech and free expression.

And then there are our organizations. Our companies and corporations, churches, clubs, labor unions, civic organizations, political parties, state/local/federal government agencies, various advocacy groups for causes and candidates, military outfits, lobbying groups, etc. It seems they all have opinions too, and voice them. And spend and spend and spend on arguments and ads and lobbying, both in the media and in DC. And that all seems okay until you realize that every single one of them is made up of people. Who already have voices. And wallets. Members get to speak twice, and the people who administer the funds get to speak last and loudest of all.

It seems to me that the theory behind trying to make sure that everyone has a voice is to show our equality, democratically. No person is any better, any more worthy to be heard than anyone else, and by joining voices we can voice a consensus.

All the money flowing around — including, clearly, money from overseas flowing in to inflate campaign funds to the largest numbers we’ve ever seen in US politics — gives a lie to our theory of equality. All that money says “Rich people are more worthy to be heard than poor people.” And some of us look at that statement and shrug, and think maybe it’s true, because aren’t rich people our employers? Aren’t they better educated, and more free from everyday concerns to think about the complicated things we don’t have time for? Haven’t rich people shown themselves to be more competent at business and industry that supports us all?

That’s quite an ideal case. It might even be true for some. But there’s a fallacy. Or several.

All it takes to be wealthy is money. You can work hard to earn it, true, and in that case wealth shows value as a reward for hard work. But you can also just have it given to you by a kind relative. Or you could find it. Or you could steal it. Or you can have worked hard for it many, many decades ago and have not lifted a finger since then. Because money is, in an interest-based economy, its own source of continuing income. It has gravity and attracts loose bills to the pile merely by existing.

Similarly there are plenty of ways to be poor that have nothing to do with your worth as a human being. You could have poor judgment and lose any amount of money on a stupid investment. Or you could work in a sector of industry that tanked and had all the jobs outsourced overseas and experience lengthy unemployment and reeducation costs. Or you could suffer an expensive illness that insurance, if you have any won’t cover. Or you could be a victim of a natural disaster or tragedy or crime that destroys your property or absconds with your assets. Or somebody with bigger lawyers than yours could ruin you by forcing a lengthy expensive legal defense. Or … really, there are an awful lot of ways to become poor. I’ll stop now.

Regardless, it’s a rare wealthy person that will spend their wealth helping you voice your opinion so you don’t get drowned out. Mostly they voice their own, and speak in their own best interests. And to hell with you.

All of that is bad enough, in terms of equality of voices, but let’s get back to these organizations. An incorporated organization can own its own property — and this includes any number of churches, political organizations, nonprofits, commercial corporations, holding companies, advocacy groups, etc. It’s a work of fifteen minutes to file paperwork to establish any of the above and get a tax ID and associate it with a checking account. Any individual can own a functionally unlimited number of these, all with their own separate rules of operation and taxability status, and, as things stand now, every single one of them has its own “right” to free speech and free expression, essentially enfranchised by a bizarre interpretation of the constitutional amendment that freed the slaves. And any person with the money to fund them to their limits and/or the authority granted to direct their spending — even if they’re the boss of a workforce in the tens or hundreds of thousands, even if the workforce and income streams are from outside US borders — can direct their financial speech, in a functionally unlimited fashion, to warp the political landscape any way they see fit, largely without the approval of any other person who might be a member of the organization.

They own themselves, and can generate their own income merely by already having money, and investing it.

Do you feel small enough now?

Your voice is overruled. Drowned out. If you work for a company, the owners can take the profits you earn them and use them to make the voice of your effort say anything you like. And you can consider that to be under duress, too, because good luck finding another job in this weather if you give up the one you have. If you’re in a union, it’s the same thing. It probably works okay for you until it comes to a point where the union has to negotiate to protect its own power and funds at the expense of your best interests, and when that happens, you’re in the same situation. The people running the organization will vote in their best interests every time and there’s nothing you can do about it unless you’re in a position to remove them and replace them with someone who will, in fact, work for you. This puts unions a step up on the typical corporation because you can have a say in who runs your union, but only shareholders, not employees, can replace whoever is at the top. The CEOs and presidents work for them, not you, and shareholders don’t care about you because money you get is, by definition, money they don’t get. And nobody can replace the guy who owns a private corporation if he’s out to push for legislation or a candidate that will screw you.

Not all organizations are bad. By all means, be a member of any group that actively supports your interests. Work for companies that have a long-term vision beyond the bottom line. Give your spare dollars to charities and political action groups that buy media to support your causes and candidates and legislation that makes your world a better place. But you also have to vote. Fire any legislator who thinks it’s a good idea to give for-profit corporations, holding companies, publicly traded or private companies, investment banks, commercial banks, and non-US interests a functionally unlimited voice in our political arenas either on issues or in support of parties or candidates. Write your Representatives and Senators at the state and federal level and demand that they introduce legislation that favors the individual voice and the individual welfare over predatory stacks of money that see their constituents as nothing other than resources to be silenced and exploited.

Use your voice while you still have one. Use your voice before it is inevitably completely and utterly drowned out by the voices of these machines, these invasive species, we have built out of bylaws and papers of incorporation.


July 30, 2012 · Posted in Everything Else  

If it’s been quiet here, it’s because I’ve been a bit busy elsewhere.

petroglyph logoTo wit, allow me to introduce you to the Journal of American Hoodoo: a showcase for exploring the syncretic phenomenon of how everyday people think about the world. Many of the pieces already up are there for the purposes of inviting discussion, covering the depiction of the way we think in art, fiction, and daily events. If you have anything you care to say on the topic, I’m happy to welcome guest pieces and start opening things up to the public.

Additionally, today I have a bit of a lengthy piece on Disinfo called “Sentient Organizations: A Cryptozoological Approach” dealing with recognizing the inherent living (and learning) principles that govern all of the organizations of which we are members, from families and friend-groups and clubs all the way up to religions and corporations and political parties and governments. I think of organizations like these as sometimes beneficial — usually, in fact — but lately they’re starting to act like invasive species, and predators and parasites, and we’re no longer at the top of the food chain where they’re concerned. And since humans are a renewable and bountiful resource to them, they certainly have stopped seeming like they have our best interests at heart and are starting to exploit us and screw with our breeding to make us more tractable. And less ethical.

And so you’ll know it’s not all about me, here’s a site I’ve discovered recently that is absolutely fantastic reading: Renfusa, a Baconian Utopia of really amazingly cool topics delivered in a package that is one of the most entertaining I’ve seen in a long while. The articles cover a plethora of obscure and strange topics from human history, presented entirely without sensationalism or exaggeration, but dumped clearly and factually on an appetizing plate for your consumption. It’s only been around for a month or so, so it’s easy to get caught up and stay current. If you like the stuff I trot out here, it will be right up your alley.



July 27, 2012 · Posted in Everything Else